Bishops create webpage on the Church, aboriginals

  • January 18, 2012

OTTAWA - The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has launched a new webpage that traces the relationship of the Catholic Church in Canada and its First Nations’ peoples.

The site sketches the history of relations with indigenous peoples, many of whom became part of the Church and “gave much to it.” It cites Joseph Chiwatenhwa, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha and “Grand Chief Henri Membertou, who became the first aboriginal leader to be baptized by the French, as a sign of alliance and good faith in 1610.”

The page also looks at the many Catholics who ministered to natives, including the Canadian Martyrs, Sts. Jean de Brébeuf, Gabriel Lalement, Antoine Daniel, Charles Garnier, Noël Chabanel, Isaac Jogues, René Goupil and Jean de Lalande, who were killed in the 1640s serving the Huron peoples.

The page also looks at the contemporary relationship between the Catholic Church in Canada and indigenous peoples.

“Today Catholics, like other Canadians, are becoming more aware of how their relationships with indigenous peoples have often been marked by imperialism and colonialism,” the page says, sharing several reflections from various CCCB documents, and closes with a quote from Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine’s historic address to the 2008 CCCB plenary assembly.

“I don’t want to look at the hurts of the past ... I want to recommit ourselves and to talk about the future. So much in the past was also good and healthy, and we can build on this and learn... This will be a difficult journey, because too many Canadians do not believe in us, the aboriginal peoples,” Fontaine said.

The site also includes a photograph of Fontaine’s meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, along with a CCCB and First Nations delegation including Winnipeg Archbishop James Weisgerber. You can visit the webpage here.

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